La Commedia by Amos Poe (Out of Competition)

La Commedia, the new film produced and directed by Amos Poe, one of the protagonists of  the “No Wave Cinema” – the  underground film movement based in New York, and father of the American Indie cinema, will be concluded in time for the 67th Venice International Film Festival.

The film will have its world premiere on Friday September 3rd, at Midnight in the Sala Grande (Palazzo del Cinema), Out of Competition. The readings of the verses by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri are by Roberto Benigni (Paradiso), Alfonso Santagata (Inferno), Sandro Lombardi (Purgatorio). Loretta Mugnai is the metaphorical Beatrice Portinari. Music by Debbie Harry, Decay of Angels, Hayley Moss, Peter Gordon, Muchael Duclos, Brenda Elthon, Paraphilia, Dave Mitchell, Riccardo Moretti, and Andres Nazrala.

The 67th Venice International Film Festival will take place on the Lido from September 1 through 1  2010, directed by Marco Mueller and organized by la Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta.

Amos Poe’s La Commedia is inspired by Dante Alighieri’s literary masterpiece The Divine Comedy and Eadweard Muybridge’s 19th century breakthrough The Horse in Motion, arguably the first“motion picture”. The key element of this film is the idea of a journey in motion, our life’s journey from hell, to purgatory to paradise – a pattern of events. Amos and Dante are two middle-aged “travellers” that have to confront themselves while undergoing a mid-life crisis. “Midway upon the journey of our life | I found myself within a forest dark…” so begins the Inferno. La Commedia is conceived as a cinema-verite document of Poe’s exile in Italy and France and especially Florence. It deals primarily with the perception of motion in a motion picture, whatever “narrative” we find is completely subjective. It’s composed of 20,000 animated still images divided into three cinematic sequences (100 minutes, like Dante’s 100 “canti”) that remind us of Dante Alighieri’s allegorical journey in search of Beatrice through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven – a kind of re-invention of the Commedia for the 21st Century, seven centuries after Alighieri’s revolutionary masterpiece. Poe carves a new “lingua vulgare” on the movie screen – a “dolce stil novo” of poetry.

The Directors said: “I was looking for a film to make and was looking for a good writer. Dante came to mind. La Commedia grew organically from my readings of The Divine Comedy, falling in love with a Florentine, my fascination with the roots of cinema as a movable poetic feast, and the help of thousands of fans on Facebook. My hope is that the viewer will be equally entertained by what is going on on the screen as by what’s happening in her or his head and heart. I believe that the magic of cinema lies in the interaction between the two narratives, the one that occurs in front of us and the one inside our soul”.

The film is an avant-garde production. While predicated on the prolific support of social networks such as YouTube, Facebook and Kickstarter – thus pushing the envelope of filmmaking today – it was produced by its author, in collaboration with producers Elena Santamaria, Ben Bindra, JR Skola and Victoria Bousis. 

Biographical notes:

Amos Poe – (Tel Aviv, Israel, 1950), considered the father of American Indie Cinema, is  also one of the founders of the No Wave Cinema movement along with Jim Jarmusch, Eric Mitchell, James Nares, John Lurie, and Richard Kern. He soon embraced B-movies, the avant-garde and the Nouvelle Vague, creating an innovative and vibrant style of cinema. He made his debut in 1975 directing Night Lunch with Ivan Kral. The following year he produced, edited and shot The Blank Generation (1976), regarded as the definitive manifesto of punk film, chronicling the seminal performances of Patti Smith, Blondie, Ramones, Talking Heads, Heartbreakers and many others. His next work, Unmade Beds (1976), which he wrote, produced and directed, was his debut feature-length film, a tribute to the French Nouvelle Vague and Godard’s A bout de souffle (1960).

In 1977 Poe wrote, produced and directed The Foreigner (1978), with Eric Mitchell and Debbie Harry, considered one of his most influential works. Subway Riders (1981) completes his underground trilogy, a series of bohemian-style films interpreted by artists, musicians and poets from downtown New York. In 1983-84, Poe co-wrote and directed Alphabet City, his first 35mm film, and directed many music videos (Run DMC, Animotion, Anthrax, Juice Newton, etc.). Subsequently he wrote Rocket Gibraltar (1988) directed by Daniel Petrie and in the late Eighties he worked on several screenplays. The year 1990 marked Poe’s return to film direction with Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole (1991) presented at the Berlin Festival. The following year the filmmaker produced Joey Breaker by Steven Starr, before his return to screenwriting with Tar Baby (from the novel by Toni Morrison), Kid Killer, La Pacifica (translated into a graphic novel by DC Comics), The Guitar and many other titles.  In 1994 he directed Dead Weekend, the sci-fi inspired by Ed Wood. In the late 1990s he wrote and directed the neo-noir Frogs for Snakes (1998). In 1999 he began to teach film at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts, while between 2002 and 2003 he produced and directed Steve Earle: Just An American Boy, a portrait of the American singer-songwriter. In 2007 he attended the 64th Venice Film Festival in the Orizzonti Eventi section with the experimental underground-style documentary Empire II, which filmed New York out of a window for a year, inspired by Empire (1964) by Andy Warhol. In 2008 Poe worked on other projects, including the screenplay for The Guitar, the directing debut of Amy Redford presented at the Sundance Film Festival, and, a platform for filmmakers, designers and artists. The following year, Poe was back at Venice as Jury president for the Corto Cortissimo section. Amos Poe lives between New York and Florence. Currently he is working on a series of cinematic projects to be developed in Italy.